Jared Diamond asks the question Why do some societies make disastrous decisions? (Scroll down for the talk).

What I’m going to suggest is a road map of factors in failures of groupdecision making. I’ll divide the answers into a sequence of four somewhatfuzzily delineated categories. First of all, a group may fail toanticipate a problem before the problem actually arrives. Secondly, whenthe problem arrives, the group may fail to perceive the problem. Then,after they perceive the problem, they may fail even to try to solve theproblem. Finally, they may try to solve it but may fail in their attemptsto do so. While all this talking about reasons for failure and collapsesof society may seem pessimistic, the flip side is optimistic: namely,successful decision-making. Perhaps if we understand the reasons whygroups make bad decisions, we can use that knowledge as a check list tohelp groups make gooddecisions.